Doubts raised over Monti cabinet selection

Mario Monti, Italy’s new prime minister, has turned his back on the political class when appointing ministers to his new cabinet.

The cabinet was widely expected to include at least two representatives of the right and left wings, but even they have been excluded. Maurizio Lupi (PDL, centre-right party) raised doubts about the wisdom of the decision. Monti faces a serious challenge in getting reforms through the legislative process without the help of these political figures and, as Lupi said, “nobody has a magic wand”.

Monti will take over at the ministry of the economy, while the role at the ministry for economic development goes to Corrado Passera, chief executive of Intesa San Paolo bank. The candidacy of Passera was unexpected, and is causing concern that the nomination would favour the interests of banks and financial circles over those of ordinary people.

Il Sole 24 Ore, the main financial newspaper of the country, gathered first reactions to the probable list of technocrats to form the government. Francesco Rutelli, leader of API, another centrist party, believes Monti’s government will run till the end of the former government’s mandate in 2013. “Given the gravity of the economic crisis, nobody could offer a valid alternative. Political parties would require too much time, and we will back the technocrat government as it is the only one able to survive this phase.”

Flavio Tosi, member of the right-wing party Lega Nord, which earlier this year exited the government coalition, said they will still back reforms if they are in the interest of the national majority. “A tax on the rich would be sensible, a much more valid alternative to Berlusconi’s attack on households and local governments. Cutting expenses of the central government would be another important point.”

Il Sole 24 Ore also focuses on the strategy Mario Monti will likely adopt to rescue Italian finances. One measure that has attracted a lot of attention is the reform of the pension system, in particular the reduction of special privileges for specific social classes and the raising of the retirement age to 67. A lot of people are hoping that Monti will enact measures to promote economic growth, something that has been lacking in Italy for almost a decade.

There is a real sense of relief in Italy that the Berlusconi era has ended, and that the country is now in the hands of someone with the credentials and the reputation of Mario Monti. Enrico Rossi, member of the Democratic Party (PD, centre-left party), said: “Monti marks the end of entertainment. With him, real politics are back. We are starting again to talk about businesses, workers, economic development, equity, young people and women.”

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